When we think about “fit” people, we tend to have an image of a slim, toned, person who runs easily and makes doing the plank look like a doddle. Well, that’s the image that springs to my mind – even though I am none of those and yet consider myself to be “fit and healthy”.
Do you remember the callipers that would pinch the fat off you and tell you the percentage of your body that is “fat” – not only did they hurt, made you feel self-conscious, but they also hurt quite a bit! Nowadays we tend to hop on scales that send a small electrical pulse through the body and see how much body fat “impedes” the signal, and then calculates this.
These, however, are challenging for most of the population and so more easily definable measure of your “well-being” – i.e., both your physical and mental fitness – can now be done via a profile of your lifestyle. A full test will have to include clinical intervention, but here is a ready reckoner that you and I can all use to gauge our fitness.
a. Lack of activity is closely linked to increased heart disease – and in my mind, many other co-morbidities and mental health issues. Try to be active most days of the week, with walking being considered a great way to exercise with the least amount of effort or hassle. It’s free, you can do it anywhere, and you don’t need sports kit.
a. Being beset by stress and having no way of managing it well causes big problems for a healthy body. I could write a book on this – but the relationship between stress and the consequences of not dealing with this are crucial. Take time to be kind to yourself, write a diary, eat well, exercise, talk to someone. Small steps to deal with stress make a big difference to your health.
3. Lack of fruit and veg
a. Who would have thought that eating your greens is such a key element of fitness? I am fascinated by the fact that no illness, disease, or cancer is caused by any fruit or veg. That to me says a lot. So why not make most of your diet to include these amazing foods, rather than them being an afterthought – or even that you “should” or “have to” eat them.
4. Inflammatory Profile
a. Now, you know that this is something of great interest to me, and a growing one at that. Again, related to the food we eat, the body has an inflammatory response (think of red painful swelling after a cut etc) - and the greater markers we have for this, the more likely it is to affect our Cardiometabolic profile.
a. The level of fat circulating in your blood stream is a clear indicator - you do need a blood test to do this, because there are no symptoms.
6. Abdominal Obesity
a. Middle aged spread might be something that we moan about, but increased fat stores on the inside of your body have a great risk to health than being able to pinch an inch. Menopause sees an increased distribution of fat in the abdominal area, and whist we often moan about the effects of the menopause, we often overlook the more serious effect it has on our heart health.
7. Insulin Resistance
a. Type 2 Diabetes is linked to your cardiometabolic profile and needs to be monitored.
a. As someone who grew up in the 70’s when smoking was considered to be “cool”, it is shocking to see how something so innocent is now linked so strongly to affecting our health in a negative way. I think that there are less people smoking these days, but the risk if you do smoke is linked to many diseases and conditions that affect your health
9. Who you are
a. Don’t panic, this is more about your sex – with females having lower risk due to oestrogen (but the same risk after menopause). Your family history of maybe early heart attack or stroke. Your childhood – cardiometabolic markers can be seen in children from about the age of 9, with this indicating that you are more likely to have health issues as you get older. And finally, how much alcohol you drink – moderate drinking is what we are aiming for, and following a more Mediterranean type of lifestyle.
I know that I have increased abdominal fat since going through the menopause – and it is quite stubborn, but I will continue to work in this. So, be honest with yourself about your risk factors – are there too many in the list that you were nodding along to going, hmm, yes, that is me. All is not lost though – because a recent study demonstrated that increased Cocoa (yes, the stuff in chocolates) would be a worthwhile item to include in your diet as reduces risk due to the high levels of polyphenols in it – and beer has it too. The coca was taken as a hot chocolate, and not in a chocolate bar sorry……but you could have some dark chocolate x
Be mindful, be careful, look after yourself x